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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Scheme to help divorcing parents
Parents with child
The government plans reform of rules on access
A pilot scheme will help divorced parents amicably work out arrangements for their children by teaching them conflict management skills.

The trial in Sunderland, Brighton, and a small area of London will see parents applying to divorce court encouraged to work out a parenting plan.

The Family Resolution Pilots will provide mediation, parenting classes and advice on negotiating skills.

The scheme's authors want parents to settle their differences out of court.

First revealed in April, with the details only now being finalised, the scheme comes at a time when the government is considering an overhaul of the rules governing access to children.

A new green paper proposes giving both parents "frequent and continuous contact" with their children in an effort to end the disputes that have led fathers' groups to stage bitter protests.

But the new pilot scheme, which starts in September will not be mandatory, something that is likely to disappoint fathers' campaigners.

A spokeswoman for the Children and Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS) said: "The Family Resolution Pilots will give much more time and resources to encourage parents to reach agreement about contact and residence before the courts need to get involved."

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